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Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes

Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible [Paperback]

by E. Randolph Richards, Brandon J. O'Brien

The Bible wasn't written in a Western sensibility, so why do we read it with one? This book helps you read the Bible in the cultural context in which it was written.

  • Want to better understand the Bible?

  • This book helps you the Bible in its cultural context

  • You'll learn to read the Bible in a more authentic way

  • Author

    Brandon J. O'Brien

  • Book Format

    Paperback / softback

  • Publisher

    Intervarsity Press (IVP USA)

  • Published

    November 2012

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Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes

Today's Price £12.04

Product Description

Over 100,000 Copies Sold Worldwide!

ECPA Bronze Sales Award's Favorite Books of the Year

What was clear to the original readers of Scripture is not always clear to us. Because of the cultural distance between the biblical world and our contemporary setting, we often bring modern Western biases to the text. For example:

  • When Western readers hear Paul exhorting women to "dress modestly," we automatically think in terms of sexual modesty. But most women in that culture would never wear racy clothing. The context suggests that Paul is likely more concerned about economic modesty—that Christian women not flaunt their wealth through expensive clothes, braided hair and gold jewelry.
  • Some readers might assume that Moses married "below himself" because his wife was a dark-skinned Cushite. Actually, Hebrews were the slave race, not the Cushites, who were highly respected. Aaron and Miriam probably thought Moses was being presumptuous by marrying "above himself."
  • Western individualism leads us to assume that Mary and Joseph traveled alone to Bethlehem. What went without saying was that they were likely accompanied by a large entourage of extended family.

Biblical scholars Brandon O'Brien and Randy Richards shed light on the ways that Western readers often misunderstand the cultural dynamics of the Bible. They identify nine key areas where modern Westerners have significantly different assumptions about what might be going on in a text. Drawing on their own crosscultural experience in global mission, O'Brien and Richards show how better self-awareness and understanding of cultural differences in language, time and social mores allow us to see the Bible in fresh and unexpected ways.

Getting beyond our own cultural assumptions is increasingly important for being Christians in our interconnected and globalized world. Learn to read Scripture as a member of the global body of Christ.

Introduction: Coming to Terms with Our Cultural Blinders

Part One: Above the Surface

1. Serving Two Masters: Mores

2. The Bible in Color: Race and Ethnicity

3. Just Words? Language

Part Two: Just Below the Surface

4. Captain of My Soul: Individualism and Collectivism

5. Have You No Shame? Honor/Shame and Right/Wrong

6. Sand Through the Hourglass: Time

Part Three: Deep Below the Surface

7. First Things First: Rules and Relationships

8. Getting Right Wrong: Virtue and Vice

9. It's All About Me: Finding the Center of God's Will

Conclusion: Three Easy Steps for Removing Our Cultural Blinders?


Resources for Further Exploration


Author Index

Scripture Index

"A fascinating guide for any serious Bible reader! Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes reveals the 'habits of the mind' that might blind us to the Bible's intended message. Richards and O'Brien unpack the intricacies and nuances of cultural communication to help people better understand the Bible. To help you know--and live--the Christian life more faithfully."


  • Author

    Brandon J. O'Brien

  • Book Format

    Paperback / softback

  • Publisher

    Intervarsity Press (IVP USA)

  • Published

    November 2012

  • Weight


  • Page Count


  • Dimensions

    138 x 206 x 21 mm

  • ISBN


  • ISBN-10


  • Eden Code


More Information

  • Author/Creator: Brandon J. O'Brien

  • ISBN: 9780830837823

  • Publisher: Intervarsity Press (IVP USA)

  • Release Date: November 2012

  • Weight: 341g

  • Dimensions: 138 x 206 x 21 mm

  • Eden Code: 4062659

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